The First of the Lasts

I saw my son turn into a little man overnight. Snapping a photo yesterday of his last day of grade two it hit me out of nowhere. We have so many lasts that it gets missed. The last nap, the last cartoon, the last of holding a baby and singing it to sleep. I once took in the deep intoxicating smell of my small baby boy. That smell still lingers in distant memory never to be forgotten. Now he smells as a stinky boy preparing for the next leg into growing up.

I am growing older I saw that in the photo. My son came into my life as I was leaving adolescence in my dust. As the saying goes there is no manual to having children, we all wing it hoping for the best. I held my baby for the first time and the last time I held him tightly in my arms when he was four. Where did the time go? I dropped him off on his first day of kindergarten and this was the first of the last times. Yesterday he finished grade two onto the summer of learning fun and adventure. Will this be the last summer we play with reckless abandon. How will I know this will be the last time we do anything?

He no longer collects tiny metal cars, I looked inside his room. It no longer holds home to a little boy filled to the brim with imagination. It holds the image of growing older. Science books and homework thrown about. Clothes with loud labels surround the floor. Try as I might with each passing day the last of little boyhood is growing away from him. The bond as baby boy and mother is now growing into a bond of a mother and her young son. Different responsibilities overtaking the loud fun we once had. I can’t remember the last time we were tickle monsters of TravisVille.

Everyone says if you blink they grow up so fast. I blinked of course as all parents do. I am sad to see the years creep up ever so silently. Missing the markers of my sons childhood and held them for granted. If only I was wiser I would hold onto the last times like hostages until somebody else said time to let go. I’m not quite ready to let go just yet. I want to hold my eyes open wide in order to not miss what is left of my sons childhood. The parenting nature doesn’t work that way. I will blink again and before me will stand my adult son onto his next adventure.

With this I say hold onto your babies a minute longer as you don’t know if this time is the first of the lasts. Hold your breath with passing moment of time and hold those true to your hearts so that way you can appreciate the fleeting time of growing older.

Written by Ali Johnson

My son at three months of age.
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Promise, They Will Be Enough

[Will’s father came back into town, and then lied to Will about being around more and left. Phillip is trying to comfort him]

Will: Hey, you no what, you ain’t got to do nothing, Uncle Phil. You know, ain’t like I’m still five years old, you know? Ain’t like I’m gonna be sitting every night asking my mom ‘when’s daddy coming home?’ You know? Who needs him? Hey, he wasn’t there to teach me how to shoot my first basket, but I learned it, didn’t I? And I got pretty damn good at it too, didn’t I, Uncle Phil?

Phillip Banks: Yeah, you did.

Will: Got to do my first date without him, right? I learned how to ride, I learned how to shave, I learned how to fight without him. I had *fourteen* great birthdays without him; he never even sent me a damn card. The hell with him!

[pause]

Will: I didn’t need him then, I won’t need him now.

Phillip Banks: Will…

Will: No, you know what, Uncle Phil? I’m gonna get through college without him, I’m gonna get a great job without him, I’m gonna marry me a beautiful honey and I’m having a whole bunch of kids. I’m gonna be a better father than he ever was. And I sure as hell don’t need him for that, ’cause there ain’t a damn thing he can teach me about how to love my kids!

[long pause; he’s crying]

Will: How come he don’t want me, man?

Scene from Fresh Prince of Belair.

I remember watching the scene from Fresh Prince of Belair for the first time and felt so connected to what he was saying. I too had absent parents who treated me out of convenience instead of want. Lonely is the best way I can describe my feelings towards the missing people that were supposed to step up and do the right thing. Some people say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but when your parent is negligent it causes a certain degree of pain.

Every time my parents would choose to jump in and out of my life a rift grew. I questioned why they chose that time to step up when they wanted no part in anything else going on. One of my battles as a child was dealing with questions of why I was not good enough for them. I was smart, imaginative, and loved to learn. The older I got I started to feel guilty for being a burden to them. I always felt that I was the reason my mom was slightly crazy and my dad didn’t want me because I made my mother nuts. It didn’t matter how much I achieved I was never good enough for them.

Overtime as their absent parenting grew I felt raw anger towards them. Other children would state how great their parents were. How they loved them unconditionally. The one time that I rejected seeing my father I was guilt tripped by family members. They stated that if I didn’t love my dad I should say it directly. I was torn into pieces that day instead of being told my emotions are validated. Thirteen year old me made a promise that day that if I ever have children; I would love them until the day I take my last breath, and be better than what they were one hundred percent.

Two boys later I have kept my promise. I, no longer keep contact with my mother by ensuring she has no access to abuse my children. My promise is simple yet it allows my children to be loved. Unlike my mother I will allow my children to make mistakes and not treat them as a disappointment. I will make sure they have food in their bellies before myself. They will always have a safe space to live in and someone to care about their needs. My last promise is to tell them I love them with each passing day. To hold them when they are scared and cheer them on when they do great things.

I am not a perfect parent by any means. My parents made a choice to walk away from me, what I learned is that I will be better. I did learn something from them and that is my children are first before me. My love for them shows them they are enough. They will not go through life wondering how they failed me. Love and trust does not come easy for me, but my children will never have to struggle with feeling alone and unheard. I may have been unwanted but I will always want my boys.

Written by: Ali Johnson

30 weeks with my son Maximus.

myself, Travis, and Max

Advice To Me

I recently bought a journal called 300 writing prompts. When I purchased it I thought it would be a good way to ask hard questions I’ve avoided, each question in this self writing journal brings me closer in my journey of self healing. I want to heal drug and alcohol free. One way to do this is by writing and telling my story for others to hear. I put this journal away for half a year when I started to feel emotional answering questions regarding advice to myself. A few days ago my partner found the journal in the deep depths of our disorganized garage. I pondered the idea if I should start writing in it again.

I opened this tiny blue journal I felt a wave of relief to see it blank in spots that asked hard hitting questions. I have decided to write here on the Garden of Love questions that are asked. The question I landed on today was ” If you go back in time exactly 10 years and give yourself some advice, what would you tell yourself?”

Ten years ago I was an emancipated minor dealing with my abusive mother trying to figure out my life. I was drinking to deal with my pain and forget that I existed. Without a care in the world I was on self-destruct mode. Ten years ago I was an awful human being who fell for victimization of myself. I was a user. Anger does wild things to a person, it makes them toxic and highly volatile.

The person I was ten years ago probably would have said I don’t need your advice. She was stubborn and felt that she could figure out the world on her own. Looking back at the person I was, I feel that the only advice she would receive is keep going. Everything she would do in the next three years of her life would give her a purpose. I know she will have to fight hard and feel like a failure but if she keeps going her life gets better.

Ten years ago I was at my all time low. Looking back at who I was and who I would become is endearing. I have come really far in life and just now hitting a point of knowing what my purpose is. I have three amazing boys and have moments of pure happiness. Ten years ago I thought this is the end of things. I truly believed that if I would not live for another ten years. My feelings and emotions got the best of me on all accounts. I’m glad ten years ago I made it through the darkest time period.

I hope through in the next ten years from now I can give this sound advice; keep living truthfully, live like tomorrow is your last day. I also hope to see future me love herself even when she cannot find the reason to. Lastly I hope ten years from now I can look back and see the good I have done and know that I lived with purpose and good intentions. I owe it to the ones I love and myself to grow up learning and becoming the person I set out to be.

Written by Ali Johnson

2009
2018

Mothers Day For Women With Abusive Mothers

Mothers days is a sore spot for those who have abusive mothers. The aggressive reminder of pain inflicted given from those whom thrive on it. It’s a great day for some; but with others who have dealt the blow of being unloved or smothered by woman unable to show true compassion beyond their narcissistic parenting, its considered a day of emotional turmoil. Every feeling, every question of why, every memory blurts through the heart like emotional vomit. The painful part of dealing with abusive mothers on mothers day is the silence one keeps inside their minds.

To the ladies balled up on your bathroom floor on Mothers Day: it’s going to be alright. Right now what you’re feeling it’s allowed to be angry and feel robbed. It’s alright to read on social media about all the great moms and feel that familiar twinge of heartbreak. Those tears you are crying right now will soon pass and you will get off that floor.

The ladies with children of their own on Mothers Day had the challenge to brave it out for their children. All day they put on the brave face as their children proudly show them the crafts they made. Once the night has come and the feelings become too much they simply allow the panic to set in. It brings the self-doubt that they too are failing just has someone failed them. To those moms who kept it together until the end, know this the cycle of abuse stops with you. Just because the woman who caused unspeakable pain does not define you as a mother. Cry it out, scream like no tomorrow, break a plate, at the end when you have nothing left for that woman to steal you get off that floor and be the warrior. You survived Mothers Day for one more year. That takes guts and strength that most do not know. If you survived this Mothers Day and keep on going I promise you they already lost.

Although they tried to steal your soul and break you into a million pieces abusive mothers lose out on love themselves. I know this day sucks a billion times over. It feels suffocating as if your head is being held under water and you are drowning in emotional turmoil. I know you might lash out on those you care about and feel guilty but you are not her. Mothers day is a very dark day for you and I; please I beg you take a moment to see the goddess in yourself, and find love that was stolen in your soul. At the end of the dark day that is Mothers Day I want you to look in the mirror and tell yourself you made it. You survived and that is what counts.

With Love to those ladies who survived the pain of the Mothers day,

Ali Johnson.

Be Confident

I almost made a massive mistake regarding my eldest son. Today I was seconds away from ruining his confidence based on his choices. My partner was the one to step in and make me realize there are things that I do as a mother that goes against teaching my son to be a confident human who can love himself.

I try to tell my children to love who they are despite what other people say. This is a core image I want them to hold for their entire lives. I try to teach my children to love their bodies and minds and encourage understanding that their bodies are temples. If they love their temples and treat it well good things will happen to them. I want them to love themselves wholesomely, so they can grow with the world and enter as brightly as they came into it.

My eldest son struggles some days with loving who he is because other people bully him for his personality and his disabilities. This year has been one big disaster of other boys trying to tear him down for whom he is. This year he not only had boys his age bully him but adults as well. School had become a mental prison to him. I have watched him come home in such a state that I tore into his teachers and started fighting back against his fellow peers. No child should through life being told he is a disappointment nor should have the words kill yourself said. No human should have this abuse placed on them.

His disabilities do no define my son if anything I applaud his strength in living with them. He refuses to let his disabilities hold him back. He is this amazing little man with a bold sense of the world. Despite struggling with autism and juvenile osteopathic arthritis, he courageously faces each day with a can do attitude. His issues do not lie with himself but from others. Others see his disabilities as inconveniencing and annoying. Instead of treating him with open mindedness and encouragement they meet him with discouraging opinions. My eyes have been opened this year to how vile and disgusting people can be to others and chose to target those different. My son is being activity bullied due to his differences by his teacher and peers alike. It is my job as his mother to fight for him and show him love for himself to combat those discouraging lack of values in others.

I lost sight of that image today, and I am so grateful my partner reminded me of why we teach him to be confident. As he picked out an outfit that had pink stripes, green shorts, and a fedora with gold flecks, he came to me beaming with pride of his new-found outfit. I looked at it and almost told him to put it back because I didn’t want others bullying him based on looks. My partner stopped me mid sentence and said doesn’t this make him look great. I stopped and re looked at my child, he had the biggest grin on his face. Pride filled his eyes, he was unique. Instead of making him put the outfit back and chose one to fit the norms of society I let him keep it. It doesn’t matter if anyone else dislikes it; as long as he is happy in his body, no one else can take away the pride that he feels.

I often forget the message that I try to convey to my sons. Love yourself and be prideful in your choices. It is not our place in the world to dash the hopes and dreams of tiny humans, instead it is our place to lead by example and show them the pathway to true self happiness.

My son on Canada Day 2018.

Written by Ali Johnson

*Disclaimer: I do not give permission for written work to be copied without permission of the author. Any work is to posted outside of website give credit to the writer of this article.

Trying To Be Super Mom

I parented hard in the last two days, so much, that when my husband called me supermom tonight it felt good to hear. I just got my tiniest human down at ten twenty-seven pm. For the last day and a half we had to manage through RSV and bronchitis.

We were between hospital and home starting at night again in the morning to return due to my eighteen months old laboured breathing. His fever soared to high temps of 39.4 degrees Celsius with no sign of relief. We have been here once before when Max was six months of age. Last time we had this he stayed one week on the pediatrics ward of the Guelph Hospital. Recognizing the signs this time around I’m glad we took a pro active approach.

Going through this again was draining on my emotions and my ability to feel like I was doing my job as his mother. When we had to do his x-ray and nebulizer I felt like the worse mother who existed. The x-ray for infants and toddlers seems like torture devices. As I put on my lead vest, placing my baby into the tube holding his arms above his head, he screamed so loud. I felt so useless, the only words I could say to him was I’m sorry. Tears streamed down both our eyes. I would never cause my children pain and seeing him in distress tore my heart out. I know that these treatments are to help him but non the less I wish I could have stolen his pain away and made his world harm free.

Not my child but a picture to show the x-ray tube. Instead of a calm baby shown here Max was screaming. His looked terrified. I think this was the second moment in the hospital I felt like a failure.

The moment that hit me the hardest was trying to place a nebulizing mask on my sons face. As advised from the nurses I had to hold my son down and keep the mask on his face. The first nurse left Max and I to our own devices. Maximus with his strength of fifty babies on steroids; fought hard like Muhammad Ali in the ring, left me feeling defeated. I was thankful another nurse took sympathy and held the mask while I tried to wrangle Maximus to stay still. Essentially I channelled my inner Steve Irwin and crocodile wrested my stressed toddler. In these moments I felt so primal that afterwards I wanted to break.

This emotional ride of Maximus being sick has left me feeling defeated. I waited for the cab for thirty minutes with him sleeping in my arms. From the wheezy breath sounds and small whimpers escaping from his lips I had a moment of panic. How can I be a good mother when all I wanted to do was get home and cry. I felt utterly selfish at this moment, I wanted to be a good mother but instead I thought of myself.

Since we got home he was given a plethora of medication, adding to the layers of distress. After napping with Max to monitor his breathing I put on Thomas the Train and took a shower. I got my moment of clarity that even feeling defeated is part of the mother package. Being alone today and handling a sick child was my wake up call that even with life throwing some serious wrenches I can do this. When my husband called me supermom; I choked back my tears of self-doubt, and plan to hold on a little longer.

This is a stepping stone in learning motherhood. I can either sink or swim or roll with the punches. I sit here typing feeling relieved to know my baby will be OK, all of this will be OK. My muscles may be sore from rocking my child, my body tired from the last day and half, but I feel clear in how much I love my children and what it takes to make sure they have a mother that cares. I will give one supermom moment at a time until my last breath.

Written by: Ali Johnson

My husband The Caveman, Mr Max, and myself.

The Mother Garden.

Before my first child was born I feared motherhood and swore it off. I thought that if I had children I would abusive just like my mother and foster grandmother. The belief I held so close was that I was incapable of loving anything because I would break it. At the time I felt that anyone I touched or cared for would just disintegrate into thin air. How could anyone with my history be a mother and raise another human being to be a good person?

The day my first child arrived in this universe was the day my heart cracked open. Every mental barricade I placed came flooded with emotion I have never felt. I remember debating if I should place my son up for adoption. Only being eighteen and on the verge of homelessness, I felt that I had already failed this small life. The doctor placed my son in my room and told me to think on it. If he hadn’t done this the outcome of my life would be so different, actually I wouldn’t be alive today. Upon seeing my son I lifted his tiny body and held it to mine. At that moment my world changed as I felt whole for the first time.

My son held my finger his little hands could barely wrap around mine. His full head of black spiky hair smelled so good. He looked so small and fragile that I didn’t want to put him down. My purpose in life so crystal clear: protect this little human at all costs, and learn together to love each other. Something primal climbed into my soul I was his mother and a mother knows no bounds for what she will do for her child.

I don’t have a manual for my child or how to parent when I did not have a mother to guide me. Sometimes when my son and I are fighting I hear the faint promise of the first day that no matter what I will love him. When he says I hate you I respond with I love you to, at that moment he may not see it but I will love him to the end of the universe. I still have fears on the bad days of motherhood but I will never give up trying to find new ways to love myself and my children.

We are a growing garden with fresh bulbs of unique flowers. We grow every day with the promise of eight years ago to never let the stalks go dry and tend each petal with grace and compassion. In the far future I will watch my children water their small gardens of life with the same promise of love and good will.

Written by Ali Johnson

unsplash-logoChristian Joudrey

Credited artist goes to Christian Jourdrey

Reflections

For the first time in almost two years, I had time away from my children. My eldest son and I took a trip to Alberta as a reward for being one year meltdown free. My partner and I agreed that he would watch the toddler for the weekend. I thought taking a break from being a wife and mother would be pleasant. Here I am in day two and I would like to go home now.

Don’t get me wrong I loved yesterday having free time away from everyone. Not having to get up every two minutes to meet demands of my family was relaxing. I did enjoy not being an autism mom yesterday; no negotiating, just getting time to hear my thoughts. I found that with my time off I was not motivated to do anything, I had become a sloth. This morning I woke up made coffee and deleted yesterdays blog. I called my husband and talked to him. I felt refreshed enough to reflect on how far I have come and that I needed my family to keep myself put together.

I take my time with my family for granted. I get overwhelmed that I’m continually their rock. My families schedule gets so busy that finding free time for myself gets lost. I get burned out when I put their needs first without a second thought. Myself has an issue with feeling the constant pressure to stay busy because when I don’t I feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. Adding mom guilt with constant anxiety becomes so exhausting that I forget how my feelings and thoughts affect my children and partner.

I feel pressure from motherhood and I don’t like speaking on it. When I booked the tickets to come back to Alberta to reward my son, I didn’t realize this was time for me to reflect on forgotten thoughts of a mother. I had time to see the beautiful work on my sons autism therapy, time to see my toddler grow, and time to allow my partner to work on fatherhood. I am ready to come home now and wait for another passage of time and hopefully have better reflections on how far my family has come.

Written by Ali Johnson

Parents of Dating Children

I have a pressing issue with men and woman posting on social media about what they will do to the future child that will date their child. This issue is hearing other parents think it’s ok to threaten other children with violence if they so look at their child. I try to understand how this is ok? As parents, we are responsible for teaching the younger generation that abuse is not ok.

I am a mom of two boys one is eight years old he is autistic. I could not imagine if he started dating and upon meeting the parents gets threatened. He already lives in fear of social normalcies and has a hard time understanding them. If someone threatens him without good reason they are showing him it’s ok to be a bully. Why instill fear upon a child learning what is ok in the world? Where is the village everyone so highly speaks of when raising children?

I have a job in motherhood and that is to teach my children to love and hold respect for others. I am teaching them to be good human beings with morals and good faith to do well in life. I will teach them that their bodies belong to them and that they are responsible to take care of the body they hold. As a mother, I already know that they will one-day encounter relationships. My job from that is to show them love should never hurt and that they are allowed to say no. This includes teaching my sons that they as well do not own another person and have to uphold the opinions and rights of others. I live by the rule to show them an open culture of trust and accountability. If they do not follow through with these rules I have failed my job as a mother.

As a parent, I will not threaten your daughters upon meeting them. I would hope that other parents will hold the same respect for my sons. I don’t own my son’s body nor do you own your daughter’s body. What I do on my end is having open communication and trust. If something presents as wrong give me the formality I would give back and talk to me. Then comes talking to our children united to teach them respect and understand the world better. If my child is being abused by your child whether it’s female or male I will step in and take steps to ensure their safety. If my sons are the abusive ones I will fully protect your children as well. As parents this role is intimidating and I understand the passion behind the veiled threat.  I also have a clear understanding that as a parent it would be the same for your child as what I feel for my children. I am a mother who would do anything to protect my children from harm. I have learned in motherhood I need to step back and let their lives run its due course.  

I will not place guilt on the guiltless unless proven otherwise. Children deserve a better future with less unprecedented violence as they are our pathway to change.  We are at the melting pot of generations; breaking the wrongs before them, if we keep this cycle going of ownership of our children, it will continue with the idea of ownership of someone else’s body. This has been proven ineffective and only generates the idea of toxic relationships. We as parents can create a better future for the generation below us. Give future children a chance to grow by growing yourself first.

Written by Ali Johnson

Dear mother

Dear mother,

Right now there is a darkness in your heart. I don’t understand if your grieving or you’re in pain. I hope one day that you will make friends with your grief and let it go. Right now I see a shell of a woman that is empty and needs love fill to create a new body of light.

 

Everyone thinks that I’m angry with you but that’s far from the truth. I’m not angry but I will be honest here I’m very disappointed. Instead of being a good person you chose to allow hate and vindictiveness to corrupt your soul. You lack the ability to see the good in humanity and you thrive on others pain. Your line of victims grows and you steal everything good from them. I am so disappointed that you cannot live without being an emotional vampire.

 

I don’t want to be like you opposite in fact. I cannot fathom the contempt you feel for your children. I look at my sons and I could never do what you did to me. Children are innocent and pure and need guidance to grow. Your soul garden is filled with weeds that drain the life out of everything you touch. I want you to know I’m not saying this to hurt you but I need you to hear my words and hopefully grow your heart to love again.

 

I have a question to ask it’s ok I know you will never truthfully answer me so here it is what is hurting you so much that you must hurt others? What can others do to help you? I don’t mean the help that your taking by hurting others to feel good. I want to know for the help you need to find your way back to your humanity. I get it right now you will say your help means nothing I am power. I really don’t believe that you mean it, surely you must see that others want you to heal and become good again.

 

I don’t know your story I have tried to find answers. A small part of me wants to find a way to help you. I know that I told you that I never wanted you in my life. In a bigger picture, you gave me life I’m forever grateful you did. If your suffering from trauma or mental illness getting you the help will make your life better. I am going to say this if you get help your life will turn around positively. To get the help you must first want to help yourself I and others cannot change that. You need to hit rock bottom in order to see the way to set yourself free.

 

”There is no love without your truth.”

 

Your reality and versions of the truth are twisted to fit your victim mentality. This is a shocking statement but one I need to make to you for my own honesty. I see what you do to people and animals they are possessions until no longer needed. It bears the burden to the heart that you cannot see beyond the abuse you are causing. If you could see with new eyes the pain and destruction you have caused by living in a false reality I believe it would bring you down like the Berlin Wall.

 

I don’t want to be thought of gaslighting you. I think you see me trying to speak to you as a threat. This is not my intention, I merely wish that you will see my words and connect long forgotten thoughts of your own. When I began writing this I had more words to say. I want to leave this here just like this. I think of you and yes a small hidden part of my heart will always love you. Until you see love for what it is and not what you can use it for, your truth will not set you free.

 

With love,

 

Your youngest daughter

oleander